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Review: Samorost 3 – a charming, slow-burning puzzle adventure

Save the day using only your wits and a magical flute in this quirky point-and-click adventure

Price: $4.99/£3.99
Version: 1.0
Size: 1.34 GB
Platform: iPhone/iPad
Developer: Amanita Design

Samorost 3 is a game about a planet-hopping space gnome and his quest to learn the origins of the universe, from the Czech studio responsible for the excellent Machinarium. Though technically the third in a loosely-connected trilogy, it’s the first full-length game in the Samorost series and the first to make its way to iOS. The game stands up on its own and thankfully, it’s not important to be familiar with the previous entries to enjoy what’s on offer here.


Hand-drawn puzzles and clues can be revealed by playing your flute at particular locations

At heart this is a point-and-click adventure, in which our unlikely protagonist must traverse a series of planets filled with environmental puzzles and unusual creatures. What makes it stand out from other games of this genre is the complete lack of text. Everything – plot, objectives, even (somewhat bafflingly) the menu – is expressed through visual symbolism, animation and audio cues. It’s a good thing the artwork is so gorgeous, as its all you have to go on. The locations are so beautifully detailed, it’s worth playing on the largest screen you have available – along with headphones – to really do the experience justice.


This giant vase is broken, but to fix it we’ll first need to source some glue from elsewhere on the planet

There’s no fiddly platforming to contend with here – tap a spot on the screen, and if there’s a clear path the character will navigate there by himself. Similarly, interacting with your environment is handled with simple taps and the view can be adjusted with familiar swipe and pinch gestures. That’s where the simplicity ends, though, with the puzzles themselves fairly tough from the get-go and the visual clues often frustratingly ambiguous. Casual players may find themselves stuck and confused relatively often, but thankfully there’s a built-in “walkthrough book” of hints to help out when the going gets tough. It’s a welcome addition once you work it how to access it, but like most of the menu system it’s not immediately clear what everything does.


The backstory is told visually by these comic books found amongst the galaxy

This is a game in which you’re greatly rewarded for curiosity and ingenuity. Though the challenges often comprise simple fetch quests – find object A for character B, yawn! – the situations are so unusual and creative its hard not to smile as you figure out how to complete them. Whether it’s scavenging food for a giant cave-guarding anteater, blasting a sad crash-landed moon back into orbit or stealing bathwater from a grumpy ape, the mini-quests that comprise the bread and butter of Samorost are as charming as they are bizarre.


The world is filled with strange contraptions and creatures

The slow pace of Samorost helps provide atmosphere, but it also needlessly pads the game and makes backtracking between locations a frustratingly time-consuming activity. Sitting through a flute recital every time you want to interact with a point of interest gets old quickly, there’s no way to skip cutscenes you’ve seen before, and would some kind of quick travel mechanic be too much to ask? The devs are uncompromising in their vision, and we respect that – but a few compromises for the sake of player sanity would have been welcome.

The nine planets of the game are distinct and characterful

Let’s be clear here: this game is slow, difficult, and sometimes even willfully obtuse. That said, it’s also charmingly presented, extremely clever and absolutely gorgeous. For many people those initial traits will be too much to bear – but for others, those curses are also blessings. They give the game its atmospheric, mysterious, joyful charm. Samorost 3 is not for everyone – but if you’re into this type of slow-burning puzzler, it’s a superb entry into the genre and simply beautiful from start to finish.